Guest Blog Post by: Tricia Craft, past Contiki staffer
As a former Contiki staff member, and a current slave to the fashion industry, I spent a lot of time in a trial and error process attempting to have fun with fashion and express my style, while adapting to the necessary function and ease of dress necessary for travel. Here are my top 5 travel lessons on what to pack and why I think you will be glad you did.
Win the war on cobblestone roads:
Europe is full of charming cobblestone roads. This poses a problem for a fashionista traveling in European cities. While there is definite temptation to wear fabulous shoes in fabulous places, the high heel is a terrible mistake. In my experience, if you choose to wear your stiletto, kitten, or pumps while wandering these centuries old accident waiting to happen streets - you will hate yourself for it. I know because I attempted it one magical night in Florence, and I truly regretted it. However, I was just as appalled at the idea of showing up for a night of dinner and dancing in frumpy shoes. The best option if you’re looking to wear a shoe with some lift is a wedge style. SO much more comfortable and SO much easier to maneuver on the those tricky roads. I'm a huge fan of a wedge bootie/boot or sandal for a night out while traveling. It's just not worth missing the sights and sounds around you, or the embarrassment of your tour manager pausing the group, because your high heel is jammed in a rut in the road.
Pack a Gold Star item:
In my opinion for the ladies, this would be a little black dress. All hail the LBD! I guarantee you will wear the hell out of it while traveling. Contiki Lifestyle offers a Hurley solid tank dress - made of viscoe/spandex, which won’t be as easy to wrinkle, that I would take with me on my next trip. I had a friend who had her luggage misplaced by the airlines, and she bought a simple cotton LBD. I watched her create about 20 different looks anchored by this dress over the course of 4 days. It works for a fun night out, and you can day time it up with a tank top or tee underneath, wear it to the beach, or if it gets cold add some tights. I say pack it in your carry on just in case of the unlikely event that the airlines "misplace" your luggage as well.
The power of the pashmina/scarf:
On my Contiki tour, I took a pashmina (i.e. an oversized thin knit or cashmere scarf) with me everywhere I went. I could jam it into almost any size bag or tie it to the handle of my purse. It's lightweight and another great multi-purpose item: wrap it around your hair in the rain, use it as a shawl in the cold, ball it up as a pillow on the coach, sit on it for a picnic in the grass at Le Eiffel tower, or the obvious use, a simple and warm scarf. I always pack a pash.
Learn to love layers:
If my boyfriend came to me and said, what should I pack for 2 weeks of travel? There are 3 items I would say for sure: collared shirt, sweater, t-shirt. Here’s why: the idea is to get the most use out of every garment you pack. Garments you can wear individually, and again with something else to totally change the look. Layer the sweater over the collared shirt, the collared shirt over the t-shirt, the t-shirt over the collared shirt (my personal fave), the sweater over the t-shirt, the collared shirt on its own....and so on. You might think you’re okay treading around in an old college hoodie and New Balance tennies but trust me you will care when you’re in Italy and a well-tailored Romeo is smooth talking the ladies.
A bold colored flat for daytime:
I touched on this before but I can't stress it enough - don't be your own worst enemy and pack shoes that hurt 45 minutes into your walk down Las Ramblas. However, I hate to see people fall victim to the idea that to be comfortable you can't express your style. I took my first trip to Paris with a newly recovered broken foot. My doctor was very specific about putting comfort and support above style and flash. Unfortunately, I wasn't about to spend 3 days in Paris, one of the fashion capitals of the WORLD, in Skechers. So, I found a great pair of flats in a poppy red color that sassed up my outfits and were also comfortable enough to survive 8 hour days on foot. The stories those poppy red flats could tell…..
Tricia currently works in Product Development for a fashion design house in Los Angeles, CA, and formerly worked for the Contiki groups department in the US. She escaped from a small town in Idaho to live the dream in New York City before finding a resting point in Huntington Beach, Ca. Follow her blog at openeyefashion.blogspot.com.